Currently celebrating over forty years in the music industry, John Boylan is one of the
most successful record producers in contemporary music. He has produced over fifty albums
which have sold more than forty million records. His work crosses all boundaries of music,
from rock to country, and from children's music to film soundtracks.
John started in the music business by writing songs while still a theatre arts student
at Bard College in New York's Hudson Valley. After graduation, he and his brother,
Terence, began pounding the pavements in Tin Pan Alley, finally landing
fifty-dollar-a-week jobs with noted music publishers, Charles Koppelman and
Don Rubin. When one of John's
songs caught the ear of Rick Nelson, he was asked to produce the rock star's next album in
Los Angeles. This lead to a long and fruitful collaboration during which John put together
the original Stone Canyon Band and produced Rick's top 40 comeback single,
"She Belongs To Me."
|In 1969, John moved to Los Angeles, where he was
hired to produce the soundtrack for the hit film, "Goodbye Columbus," with the Association.
While working on the subsequent Association album, he was recruited by the
legendary bluegrass group, the Dillards, to produce their Elektra album,
"Copperfields." Working on this project, John had a revelation which changed his
career: "I realized that the most exciting music for me was rooted in the American
folk tradition," he remembers. "I began to think of ways that I could combine
those roots with contemporary rock and roll."
Mixing Linda Ronstadt, 1973: John Haeny,
|A short time later, a chance meeting with Linda
Ronstadt at West Hollywood's famous Troubadour club gave John a chance to explore some
of his musical fusion ideas. Linda asked John to help her form a new backup group for her
next solo tour and he quickly turned to the extended family of struggling musicians
playing in various bands at the Troubadour's Monday night "open mike" concerts.
First to be hired was Detroit transplant Glenn Frey, followed quickly by Texan Don
Henley, who had been pitching his songs to John, hoping to get Linda to record them.
Rounding out the band were ex-Stone Canyon Band member Randy Meisner and
Linda Ronstadt, John Boylan, Rick
Nelson in 1970
|ex-Flying Burrito Brother Bernie Leadon. With this
solid line-up behind her, Linda's career took off. Her next album, produced by John,
became her first gold record, containing the hit singles, "Silver Threads and Golden
Needles" and "Love Has No Pride." In addition, John signed a two-year
contract to manage her career, during which he negotiated her release from Capitol Records
and landed her a long-term contract with Elektra/Asylum.
After several successful tours during
1971, John helped Linda Ronstadt refine her sound into
|what would be one of the cornerstones of the California
country-rock movement. However, everyone involved began to realize that her backup group
had a special chemistry all their own. John recalls: "They were four great singers
and they were writing some incredible songs. It seemed natural for them to try for a
record deal." Signed to Asylum Records by founder David Geffen, the group became the Eagles,
one of the most successful rock bands in American history.
Epic Records A&R Staff, 1976: Lennie Petze, Gregg Geller, Steve
(Vice-President), Becky Shargo, John Boylan, Tom Werman, Al Aronowitz,
In 1973, John left the management business to concentrate on record production. Successful
projects for Brewer and Shipley, Pure Prairie League, and Commander Cody and His Los Planet Airman over the
next two years led to his largest-selling project ever. When ex-Atlantic Records promo man
Paul Ahern played him a demo tape by an unsigned and previously passed-over Massachusetts
group, John heard something exciting - a vibrant combination of melodic music and heavy
metal. He quickly signed on as co-producer, and the package was given a
with Epic Records. The group's first album, "Boston," became the best-selling
debut album in the history of the music industry - 18 million and still counting!
|Just before the album's release in August of 1976, John
accepted an offer to join the A&R department of Epic Records in Los Angeles, where he
quickly rose to the position of Vice-President, West Coast. His unusual contract with the
label allowed him to produce one outside project every year.
His first independent venture was a clear winner: during a visit to Australia and New
Zealand for industry seminars, John witnessed the beginning of the burgeoning music scene
in the Land Down Under. Against the advice of many of his colleagues, he took on
production chores for an unknown Australian group called the Little River Band.Working
John and the band did four albums, all
At a Boston session at Capitol Studio C.
Standing: Gregg Geller (Epic), Becky Shargo
(Epic), Tom Scholz, Paul Ahern (Manager),
Warren Dewey (Engineer). Seated: Barry
Goudreau, John Boylan, Brad Delp
|platinum, and generated an astounding six straight top ten
singles, including the classics, "Lonesome Loser" and "Reminiscing."
|Throughout his twelve-year career with Epic, John was also
responsible for producing some of that label's biggest hits. In the late 1970s, he began
working with top Southern rock artist, Charlie Daniels. Their first effort, "Million
Mile Reflections," sold over three million copies and featured the number one Gold
single, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," a Grammy winner and the CMA single of
the year. John and Charlie went on to form a long-term partnership, recording eight
successful albums together.
|At Metropolis Studios, Melbourne, Australia in
mixing Little River Band : John Boylan, Ian
|In the eighties, John worked with REO Speedwagon, Carly
Simon, and Canadian superstar Dan Hill, as well as country legends
|Michael Martin Murphey and Mickey Gilley. But it was his
long association with David Geffen that gave him his next
multi-platinum artist. The
Portland Oregon-based group, Seafood Mama, had enjoyed some local success when they
became the first unknown signing to the newly-formed Geffen Records. With John's
direction, the group changed personnel and acquired a new name, Quarterflash. Their
debut album was certified platinum on the strength of two hit singles, "Harden My
Heart" and "Find Another Fool."
Soon after, Epic Records and its sister label Columbia were sold to the Sony Corporation.
Feeling that the time was right to become an independent record producer again, John left
Epic and reactivated his own company, Great Eastern Music. He also built a complete
48-track digital recording studio. Once again, David Geffen was the first to call.
John believes his work on the hit animated TV show, "The Simpsons," was the most
challenging of his long career. "Geffen had signed the music rights to the characters
from the hit show and he asked me to do
an album with the actors who supplied the voices. Luckily, they were all able to sing in
their character's voices, which I consider one of the most difficult feats in music."
The album, "The Simpsons Sing The Blues," sold in excess of four million records
worldwide and helped make Homer and his dysfunctional family one
of America's all-time favorites.
The phenomenal success of "The Simpsons" put
John squarely in the children's music business, and for his next kid's venture, he
accepted an offer from Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. of Chipmunk Productions, and the result was
the platinum-selling "Chipmunks in Low Places," one of the rodents' biggest
John Boylan with Charlie Daniels in Nashville.
|After producing the follow-up, A Very Merry Chipmunk,
John began working with Jim Henson's legendary Muppets: "I called in a lot of favors
for "Kermit Unpigged" and we all had a wonderful time. Don Henley's duet with
Kermit, along with Linda Ronstadt, George Benson, and many others, made this one of my
His most recent children's project was the most ambitious of
all: "We started "Elmopalooza" in late 1996, and we finally finished in
early 1998!" The huge production was an ABC-TV Prime Time Special hosted by Jon Stewart, and subsequently a DVD and CD on Sony Wonder. The star-studded guest lineup included
Gloria Estefan, Kenny Loggins, Steven Tyler, Celine Dion, the Fugees, En Vogue,
Jimmy Buffett, Shawn Colvin and many more. Most of the productions were recorded at least
partially in John's own studio: "I was especially proud that I got to produce some of
the songs written by my brother-in-law, Jeff Moss, one of Sesame Street's senior
writers." On February 24, 1999, John was awarded a Grammy for
"Elmopalooza!" which won the award for Best Musical Album For Children.
Clowning it up with the cast of "The Simpsons:" John Boylan,
Julie Kavner, Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith. Lions Share Studio,
A session for "Kermit Unpigged." Top: Robert Kraft (Henson
Productions), John Boylan; Seated: Kermit the Frog, Don Henley
|Throughout his career, John has also worked extensively in the film
industry. After placing one of Charlie Daniels' songs in the hit film, "Urban
Cowboy," John produced eight more songs for that soundtrack, including the number one
smash, "Lookin' For Love" by Johnny Lee. His soundtrack work stretches from
"Footloose," to "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," to "Born on the
Fourth of July," to "Hope Floats."
In 2002, Linda Ronstadt called and ask John to co-produce her long-awaited Christmas album, followed by an album of jazz standards for Verve Records called Hummin' to Myself. At that time, he also signed on as Linda's personal manager, working on all her big U.S. tours since 2004 as well
as on her Mariachi Tours. In 2013, he began working on a non-musical project with Linda - her autobiography, released in September of 2014 by Simon & Schuster. Following a prolonged book tour, Linda retired from performing.
Working with Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Freidman, and James Keach, John helped to put together Linda's Grammy-winning 2019 documentary, Linda Ronstadt - The Sound of My Voice. And in 2021, John engineered the sale of Linda's catalog to Irving Azoff's new company, Iconic Artists Group.
next? John will be spending the rest of
2022 on three projects: the new Linda Ronstadt biopic, a new Linda Ronstadt book for Heyday Publishing, and finishing his highly anticipated book on record
production. The volume will combine a history of the recording industry
along with a comprehensive "How-To"
manual based on John's extensive experience in the studio:
"I originally designed it for my production class at
UCLA, which I taught for eleven years, but I think it will
also appeal to anyone who wants to get into music
production of any kind. I promised the publisher I'd have
it ready soon," he says. "I'd
better get to work."
Above: John Boylan and Glenn Frey at a
UCLA Production Class, 1996.